Senators grill Adamson exec over Tau Gamma presence in campus
Senators on Tuesday grilled an Adamson University official over their alleged inaction despite being aware of the presence of Tau Gamma Phi, a fraternity not officially recognized by the school, in the campus.
Testifying during the hearing by the Senate justice committee, Adamson Student Affairs director Atty. Jan Nelin Navallasca admitted being aware of Tau Gamma’s “alleged presence” in the university.
The committee was probing the death of Adamson student John Matthew Salilig over alleged hazing by Tau Gamma members in Laguna on February 18.
“So alam pala ninyo na meron niyan, bakit hindi ninyo ni-regulate [If you are aware of them, why didn't you regulate them]?” Senator Ronald dela Dela Rosa asked Navallasca.
Senator Raffy Tulfo, for his part, castigated Navallasca for “not doing anything” regarding Tau Gamma Phi.
“You should have done something, kaso wala kang ginawa [but you didn't do anything],” Tulfo said.
In defense, Navallasca said it is the school's policy not to recognize fraternities and sororities.
“It (Tau Gamma) is not a recognized student organization… It is our policy that we don’t recognize sororities and fraternities in the university,” he said, adding the school did not know the identities of Tau Gamma members.
Atty. Anna Maria Abad, Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities legal counsel, said students are informed that the school does not recognize fraternities and sororities.
“‘The loco parentis is in respect of the academic and extracurricular activities that are recognized by the school… yun po ‘yung limit ng aming authority. This is part of the academic freedom of the universities,” Abad said.
Tulfo, however, said the school has an obligation to inform the authorities about the existence of unrecognized groups in their campuses.
Abad stressed that the school conducts seminars, especially for transferees about school policies and regulations. But Dela Rosa said that was not enough.
“Established yan. Alam namin na may ginagawa kayo pero kulang pa rin ang ginagawa niyo. Dahil may namatay,” he said.
Navallasca admitted that Adamson felt short in scheduling an orientation on March 18, two months after the start of the semester.
“We recognize the shortcoming. We scheduled it prior to the incident because we had other considerations like academics,” Navallasca said.
(We are aware that you are doing something but it's not enough because somebody died.)
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, for his part, said it was Adamson’s fault for not persevering in locating Salilig when he was reported missing.
The body of Salilig, 24, was found in a shallow grave in Imus, Cavite days after he was reported missing.
Estrada said it was negligent of the school to not inform Salilig’s parents that he was not attending classes.
“Alam niyo na ini-inform na kayo ng mga pulis na meron na silang [You were informed by the police about their] initial investigation with regard to the death of the victim and you did not even exert any effort to locate these stupid students,” he said.
Navallasca, in response, said they were waiting for the results of the investigation.
“We were cooperating with the police, we were providing information as to the students involved… because we believed the police were on the ground doing the investigation and they have the capacity,” he said.
Also during the hearing, committee members pushed for the punishment of reclusion perpetua for school administrators, house owners, and all fraternity officials who did not do anything despite having knowledge of ongoing hazing rites.
In the case of Salilig, Dela Rosa, a former national police chief, said the school had failed to implement its doctrine of "loco parentis" or its legal responsibility in place of a parent.
This was after he learned from resource person Roi Dela Cruz, who underwent hazing together with Salilig and is considered a witness in the case, that the school did not orient them about fraternities and hazing rites.
“So tama, I agree with Senator Tulfo, 'yung amendment niya na gagawing mas mabigat na penalty dapat ipapataw sa eskuwelahan dahil hindi nila ginagawa 'yung kanila loco parentis doon sa estudyante,” Dela Rosa said.
(I agree with Senator Tulfo's proposed amendment to hand out harsher penalties because universities failed to perform their duty as acting parents of the students.)
Frat execs, too
In his opening statement, Tulfo said all fraternity officials, whether absent or present during the hazing, must also be held accountable.
“Mr. Chair, it’s about time na panagutin natin, whether absent o present ang mga opisyal ng fraternity ng naganap na hazing, (It's about time that they should be penalized, whether any official was present or not during the hazing) they should be held accountable, reclusion perpetua, no ifs, no buts,” Tulfo said.
“Ganon din po sa mga may-ari ng venue. Kasi nga po yung mga may-ari ng venue, ang nag-facilitate po niyan kamag-anak. So this time yung mga kamag-anak na nag-facilitate nung venue mag-iingat dahil ayaw nilang mapahamak yung kanilang mga kamaganak,” he added.
(It also goes for the owners of the venue [where the hazing took place]. They are usually family members. This time, they may think twice because their relative may get into trouble.) —VAL/KBK, GMA Integrated News